Generational Disconnect

When I was a kid, my parents would make references to bits on radio shows from their childhood.  And, unless they explained the reference, I did not get it.

I participated in a school trivia night a couple of years ago. The questions were “boomer-centric.” The group that finished in last place was a table of younger teachers—all VERY BRIGHT PEOPLE in their late 20’s—who did not know much about pop culture from the 70’s and 80’s.

For several years, ran a hilarious feature called “Parents Just Don’t Understand” which made fun of older generations and their issues with technology.

Generational disconnect and the resulting poor communication can lead to confusion, resentment, envy and disgust.

If you work with younger people—or deal with younger generations in your church or neighborhood—you should make an effort to speak their language. That does not mean learning the newest hipster lingo, it means becoming aware of their interests and concerns.

The key is to be AUTHENTIC.  Don’t pretend to be something you are not. And don’t pretend to know things you do not know.

When you talk to someone from another generation, be GENUINELY interested. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Show respect. Acknowledge differences. Don’t feel compelled to trump their stories with “back in the day” tales of your own exploits.

Communication should be a two-way street, but don’t count on that happening right off the bat.

Generally, the older generation should prepare to defer to the younger generation. That’s a normal progression.

Eventually, today’s Gen-Y Millennials will be the ones concerned about a new generation. And the young folk who submitted those items to will someday be the subject of chuckles for their own progeny.


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